When the Philadelphia Flyers acquired Glenn Resch from the New Jersey Devils Tuesday shortly before the trading deadline, it gave them an experienced goaltender for the upcoming playoffs.
It also has served to light a fire under the Flyers' No. 1 goaltender, Bob Froese.
Just before the deal was made, the Flyers had lost four in a row and first place in the Patrick Division. In a previous appearance, Froese, who has been the top goalie in the league most of the season, had been shelled for four goals after just 23 minutes in a loss to Buffalo March 4.
Since the poor performance, however, Froese has been the hottest goalie in the league.
Froese stopped 20 shots Sunday night at Philadelphia to lead the Flyers to a 4-1 victory over the Devils for their fourth win in a row. The win enabled them to increase their lead over second-place Washington to three points.
The Flyers, with Murray Craven scoring one goal and assisting on the other two, gave Froese a three-goal cushion before the game was 12 minutes old. It was easily enough.
When Doug Sulliman scored five minutes into the second period, it ended Froese's string at 117 scoreless minutes.
In the four-game winning streak, Froese, strictly a backup goalie until the tragic death of Pelle Lindbergh in an auto accident early in the season, played a prominent role.
It started last Sunday when Froese stopped 30 shots in a 4-1 win over the New York Rangers. In the Flyers' biggest game of the season so far, Froese stopped 19 shots in a 2-0 victory over Washington Thursday to put the Flyers back on top.
Friday night at Toronto, Resch made his debut with the Flyers. It was a colossal flop. After he gave up five goals on just 12 shots in two periods, Resch gave way to Froese. Froese stopped the Maple Leafs the rest of the way, and the Flyers won in overtime.
"When we went into our slump on the road, he (Froese) was affected, too," Coach Mike Keenan said. "But, in the last two seasons, we have been very good at responding in tough situations. Bob is a prime example of what I mean. When he is playing the way he has the last couple of games, no goaltender is any better.
"He was in complete command tonight. He was especially tough in the last period when the Devils fired 11 shots at him."
While the Flyers enjoy a three-point lead over the Capitals, they only have nine games left, while the Capitals have 11. The division winner probably will be decided in the two games left with each other.
New York Rangers 3, New York Islanders 1--The Rangers, frustrated for two periods by goalie Kelly Hrudey at New York, stormed from behind and climbed into fourth place in the Patrick Division.
Former King Brian MacLellan tied the score 10 seconds into the final period, and Mike Ridley scored the game-winner at 12:16. Ron Greschner scored into an empty net in the closing seconds to close out the scoring.
The Rangers were without injured Pierre Larouche, who had scored 16 goals in 19 games, but finally turned loose an offense. The win put them one point ahead of Pittsburgh in the battle for the final playoff spot in the division.
Winnipeg 6, Detroit 0--Ever since General Manager John Ferguson replaced Barry Long as coach, the Jets have been playing the way they did last season when they were the surprise of the NHL.
With Dan Bouchard facing only 15 shots, the Jets skated to an easy victory at Winnipeg, their fourth in five games under Ferguson.
Ray Neufeld scored his 20th goal midway through the first period to give Bouchard all the offense he needed.
The Red Wings had only three shots on goal in the first period and none at all in the 94 seconds they had a two-man advantage. The loss dropped the Red Wings, the worst team in the league to 15-49-6.
The Jets, who scored four goals during a seven-minute rally in the second period, increased their lead over the Kings in the battle for third place in the Smythe Division to three points.
Chicago 5, Vancouver 4--Al Secord scored his 44th goal of the season on a power play with 7:17 remaining at Chicago to give the Blackhawks the victory.
The Blackhawks, who stretched their lead in the Norris Division to four points, tied the game on Bob Murray's goal shortly after the final period started.